RAY MALLON
ON THE BBC POLITICS SHOW 10.03.09

RAY MALLON - Its all about balance because lets face it its wrong to actually pull trees out the ground, its wrong to drive a car, its wrong to actually fly on an aeroplane, but its all about balance. But as far as Longridge is concerned, we know it as Site 44, that is a good green space (You said it Ray! ) within an existing residential area. We stated 25 years ago we were gunna build on it. We need to build houses and one of the biggest problems in Middlesbrough is we’ve lost an awful lot of population, something like 20,000 people over the last 20 years (what 20,000 executives left M'bro?!) because they have been looking for the right type of housing and Middlesbrough hasn’t had it (Nowt to do with the fact that the area lost 64,000 jobs in the 80s and 90s and never truly recovered?l) So what we have to do is address the imbalance of housing stock that we have and this is a good way of doing it. Because when you look at M’bro, 53% of housing stock is ‘Band A’ properties. The imbalance is clear everyone can see it (A huge imbalance in M'bro is 1% tree cover compared to a national average of 11%! All visitors see it - they dont see any 'Tees Valley') and therefore we’ve got to address it, and one of the ways we can do this is by building on this space.

BBC – But surely by building on green space you make M’bro a less attractive place for people to come and live in defeating the object of what you have just described?

RM – Yeah (!!!) but the thing is this - its all about balance and we’ve got to actually you know, make the population rise, and the only way you are going to attract people to a town or city is by providing the right kind of housing stock. We haven’t got that in M’bro the stock is completely imbalanced and it is all about balance. If I had my way you know, well people wouldn’t be driving cars, they wouldn’t be getting on aeroplanes, they wouldn’t be pulling trees out. We’ve got to have this balance because it’s all about life and you’ve also got a rising population and that is one of the biggest problems so where the environmentalists are concerned, the real environmentalists, they talk about balance. And I’ve spoken to people like Jonathon Porritt form Forum For The Future who would say yes you would have to build on some of these green spaces (But did Jonathon really say build on Longridge Ray? And also he believes in reducing the population to 50% in the UK!) And this has been there on the stocks of the council for 25 years - the people in the locality have known that (Happy 25th Birthday Rushmere - my you look good for your age, I thought you were about 10?!) And frankly I really do question the environmental credentials of some of the demonstrators where this particular site is concerned because when I speak to some of them they just don’t want houses on the site but its very easy for people to use the environmental ticket where a subject like this is concerned.
(And its very easy for people to say that living in leafy Middleton St. George! ...'Think Global-Act Local' just so long as it doesn't interefere with short-term council plans...)

BBC - What do you hope to achieve as Mayor environmentally in Middlesbrough and what do you think the major challenges you face are?

RM – We’ve got massive challenges not just in M’bro but in the rest of the country and the rest of the world. Again it goes back to this word ‘balance’. (it goes back to balance for the 10th time in 3 minutes because you don't really know what you are talking about). A rising population across the world, if it continues like this across the world, its going to be very difficult and climate change is a massive, massive problem. Now in my view, what we’ve got to do in M’bro, we’ve got to live our lives, we’ve got to build houses, we’ve got to live on a daily basis (but fighting climate change is all about thinking of the future right?). There are some things we can do to look after the environment and that is what we are trying to do in M’bro. (But you didn't say exactly what people can do without using the 'environmental ticket'?!) There’s a whole host of things we are trying to move along such as the Middlehaven development, we want to try and make that carbon neutral (Why are you encouraging Terrace Hill to build office blocks on Central Gdns, a public green space, when you gave them planning permission to build 4 office blocks on Middlehaven 4 years ago and yet they only built one?!) There’s other experiments that we’ve taken a long way where the hydrogen economy is concerned. Clean air, people have often said to me that the air in M’bro is actually cleaner than probably on the Cleveland hills for one reason and another (And the moon over M'bro is made of cheese !!!) so there is awful lot things that we are doing buts it going to be small incremental improvements as time goes on cos lets face it, when you look at the environment and climate change its probably took us about a 100 years to get into the mess we are in and its gunna take more than a year or two to get out of it but you’ve got to start somewhere (So why not 'start somewhere' at Longridge and the Lake by listening to the people trying to stop you making more of a mess?!) In my opinion for real change to occur you need a massive change and that will be led by the country and led by America as well (And so given that logic, what you do in M'bro isn't real damage and our acting local isn't real change? It's a cop out Ray. The planet is undergoing a death of a 1000 cuts from 1000s of people like you in power in 1000s of localities around the world who spout green but build on it for the quick buck...)

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